Posts Tagged As: Florida

Miami Beach Police harrass gay witness to their brutality

Timothy Kincaid

February 3rd, 2010

Miami Beach Officers Frankly Forte and Elliot Hazzi were going about their business of kicking an unarmed man in the head when they realized that they were being observed. By a gay man, of all people.

So they approached Harold Strickland, pushed him to the ground, tied his hands behind his back and screamed homophobic slurs at him. They said they were sick of the f**ing f**gots in the neighborhood so they decided to arrest him for “attempting to break into cars”.

Unfortunately for Forte and Hazzi, Strickland was on the phone with a 911 operator reporting the beating he was witnessing when they decided that he would be target number two. And the tape of the call corroborates Strickland’s call up until the point where the officers demanded to know who he was and what he was doing there. At the time they “observed him” breaking the law, he was face down in their custody being subjected to police brutality.

The officers are still on duty.

Let me repeat, the officers are still on duty. And I can’t help but wonder why the 911 call did not immediately generate a top level investigation. Were I on a jury, the lack of concern on the part of the city would weigh heavily on my determining of just how much to award Mr. Strickland.

It’s no wonder that the gay community is fleeing Miami Beach. They have decided that they’d rather have thugs and monsters than “f**ing f**gots” for. I wonder how that’s working out for them.

Publisher Says He Won Bid to Buy Washington Blade Before Shutdown

Jim Burroway

November 17th, 2009

A Washington, D.C.-area LGBT publisher has confirmed that his company had been in the process of purchasing the Washington Blade and working toward a seamless transfer when the current owner, Window Media, abruptly ceased operations.

Window Media had been in receivership with the Small Business Administration. Nicholas Benton, owner of the weekly Falls Church News-Press confirmed in a press release that his company, Benton Communications, had won a bid in September to purchase The Blade “for purposes of a seamless perpetuation of the nation’s oldest gay community newspaper.” Benton says that he was contacted by agents representing Window Media and the SBA in late September and informed that his bid was accepted. He said that the process to complete the sale continued until Nov. 6.

“Everything was in place, although moving slowly, to make the seamless transition we hoped for. But I remain unaware of what happened, and as a result of Monday’s events, The Blade is gone after 40 years of publication, its employees are out of work, and the nation’s and region’s LGBT community has been stripped of an invaluable institution.” Benton said.

So far, there has been no word yet on why Window Media and the SBA suddenly shut down The Washington Blade and other newspapers, including Southern Voice, The Houston Voice and The South Florida Blade. Miami-based Multimiedia Platforms had been negotiating the purchase of The South Florida Blade, but has announced that they will now launch a new newspaper after hiring the former employees at the defunct paper and 411, a companion magazine.

Former Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff has said that he and other staffers plan to investigate starting a new paper. The Blade ran a profit as a standalone publication within Window Media, but not a large enough profit to keep the parent company out of bankruptcy.

Orlando LGBT Center Vandalized

Jim Burroway

November 17th, 2009

WKMG in Orlando reports:

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Community Center of Central Florida — more commonly known as The Center — and a second nearby gay-owned business were targeted by vandals who spray painted with a swastika and the words “Gay Pawer,” “Die Fags,” “Go To Hell” and other homophobic slurs. Damage to the two buildings is estimated to be over $1,000.

…Fund raising efforts to install security cameras have been ramped up in the wake of the incident.

Washington Blade, SOVO Shut Down

Jim Burroway

November 16th, 2009

Word is spreading around the Internet that Windows Media, publisher of the Washington Blade, Houston Voice, Southern Voice, South Florida Blade and other LGBT news outlets, has gone out of business over the weekend in Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. SOVO editor Laura Douglas-Brown posted a note on Southern VoiceFacebook page confirming the shutdown:

With deepest regret, as editor of SoVo, I have to tell you that we arrived at the office to learn that our parent company, Window Media, has shut down. While the 20 years of SoVo have come to an end, our civil rights movement is only beginning. I am personally grateful to all of the staff, and to all of you who have had the courage to share your stories. It has been the honor of my life to help you tell them.

Project Q Atlanta reports that Southern Voiceemployees showed up to find that the locks had been changed and a note taped to the door, asking employees to return on Wednesday to collect their personal belongings.

This is a horrendous loss to the LGBT community. The Washington Blade began just forty years ago as The Gay Blade, a free one-paged mimeograph newspaper. It grew to become one of the most powerful voices for LGBT issues in the nation, having broken many important stories over the year covering the political beat in the nation’s capital. The editorial and reporting talent at the Blade is one of the best in the industry, and not just the specialty niche LGBT news industry. Few reporters have a Rolodex like veteran reporter Lou Chibarro. (Even fewer are still using a genuine Rolodex as Lou reportedly does.) The talent at that small paper would be the envy of any other publication, LGBT or mainstream. It would be very difficult to overstate the magnitude of this loss.

Sometimes Freud Was Right

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2009

A man with issues.

A man with issues.

On Monday, Marine reservist Jasen Bruce attacked a visiting Greek Orthodox priest with a tire iron after the priest asked him for directions. Bruce originally claimed that he attacked Rev. Alexois Marakis, whose English is poor, because he thought the man was an Islamic terrorist. Now Bruce, who’s also a beefcake model, is changing his story. He’s switching to the gay panic defense, claiming the priest tried to grab his genitals.

How many issues can you count in that paragraph?

Time’s Running Out For Early Registration for 2009 Anti-Heterosexism Conference

Jim Burroway

October 2nd, 2009

Time is running out to save on early registration for the 2009 Anti-Heterosexism conference scheduled for Nov 20-22 in West Palm Beach, Florida. You can save $50 by registering by Monday, October 5th. On October 6th, conference fees go up from $145 to $195. This conference is sponsored by Soulforce, Beyond Ex-GayTruth Wins Out, Equality Florida, the National Black Justice Coalition, and Box Turtle Bulletin.

So what is this “heterosexism” we’ll be talking about? Jeff Lutes, Executive Director for Soulforce, describes the conference this way:

First off, it\’s important to be clear that the title of the conference is the Anti-Heterosexism Conference, not anti-heterosexual. Heterosexism is the widespread assumption that heterosexual relationships are somehow superior to same-sex relationships, which leads to all kinds of abuse and discrimination against LGBT people. We want to highlight where heterosexism seeps into the social, cultural, religious and political fabric of society, and how we can begin to unravel its damaging consequences.

One way we see heterosexism come into play is in the attitudes which lead LGBT people to try to change their sexual orientation.These efforts are nearly always futile. The American Psychological Association recently issued a rigorous review of 83 studies on efforts to change sexual orientation conducted between 1960 and 2007, and they now advise psychologists to avoid telling their clients that therapy or other treatments can change them from gay to straight. With great effort, they may be able to modify their behavior, and they can always change their identity (“I’m not ‘gay’ anymore, even though I still like guys.”) But practitioners who offer ironclad promises to change sexual attractions are not only hiding the truth, but they are violating APA recommendations as well.

Mark Yarhouse, one half of the Jones and Yarhouse ex-gay study team whose work has been hailed by NARTH and Exodus as proof that “change is possible,” has conceded that the APA’s stance is correct.

“For me, in my own practice, I would not focus on change of orientation,” said Yarhouse, a psychologist and counselor who teaches at Regent, an evangelical Christian school.

…Yarhouse’sstudy focused on those who said their same-sex attractions collided with their religious beliefs. He said his research found that there was “modest” movement away from homosexuality among some Exodus participants, but categorical conversions to heterosexuality were rare.

Yarhouse recommended that counselors avoid uniformly steering struggling gays toward heterosexuality and focus instead on the best outcome for the individual.

That could include celibacy or exploring different faith groups with various attitudes toward gays and lesbians, he said.

NARTH completely rejects that finding, and are instead holding a conference in West Palm Beach to push their unscientific worldview. They are very skilled at getting media attention and putting on a professional face. And you can bet that they won’t exercise the kind of candor exhibited by Mark Yarhouse.

That’s why it’s extremely important for us to be there to present the facts behind efforts to change sexual orientation. Many of those in attendance will include those who tried to change but failed, including some who were former patients of NARTH co-founder, Joseph Nicolosi.

I hope you will join me and BTB contributors Gabriel Arana and Daniel Gonzales for three days of inspiring and informative workshops on the issues surrounding attempts to change sexual orientation and the heterosexist attitudes which underlie many of those attempts. Featured speakers are Dr. Sylvia Rhue, interim Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, Dr. Jack Drescher, Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and Rev. Deborah L. Johnson of Inner Light Ministries. Through the weekend, the conference will equip attendees from all across the country on ways in which they can challenge heterosexist attitudes and practices, understand the harms of conversion therapy efforts and the unscientific principles which propel them, and become strong advocates for LGBT equality.

Federal Court Throws Out Suit Against Miami Hospital By Lesbian Barred From Dying Partner

Jim Burroway

September 29th, 2009

Janice Langbehn holding a photo of Lisa Pond

Janice Langbehn holding a photo of Lisa Pond

A federal court in Miami has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Janice Langbehn, a Washington state lesbian who was not allowed to visit her dying partner at Jackson Memorial Hospital in February 2007.

Lisa Pond suffered an aneurysm just before she, her partner, and three children were about to embark on a family cruise to celebrate Janice and Lisa’s eighteenth anniversary. Pond was rushed to Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, but hospital personnel and social workers refused to allow Langbehn access to pond even after a power of attorney was sent to the hospital naming Langbehn. It was only because of the intervention by a Catholic priest who was called to perform last rites that Langbehn was able to spend a few minutes with Janice before she died. 

Today, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal on behalf of Langbehn. According to a statement from Lambda Legal:

“The court’s decision paints a tragically stark picture of how vulnerable same-sex couples and their families really are during times of crisis,” said Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. “We hope that because of Janice’s courage to seek justice for her family in this case that more people better understand the costs of antigay discrimination. This should never happen to anyone.”

…The court ruled that the hospital has neither an obligation to allow their patients’ visitors nor any obligation whatsoever to provide their patients’ families, healthcare surrogates, or visitors with access to patients in their trauma unit. The court has given the Langbehn-Pond family until October 16 to review the ruling and consider all legal options.

Jackson Memorial Hospital also issued a statement:

We have always believed and known that the staff at Jackson treats everyone equally, and that their main concern is the well-being of the patients in their care. …Jackson will continue to work with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to ensure that everyone knows they are welcome at all of our facilities, where they will receive the highest quality of medical care.

Janice Lanbehn and her three childrenThe phrase “everone knows they are welcome” stikes me as perhaps the most cynical statement ever made. If they’ve changed any of their policies since Lisa’s death, I can find no evidence for it. Nor can I find any hint of recongition that they’ve done anything so vile and inhumane as to deny one of their patients the company of their family in their last dying hours. Their behavior toward Janice was outrageous and beyond contemptuous, and they offered not even so much as a “sorry” afterwards.

And to those who claim that marriage doesn’t matter because other legal arrangements are good enough, take a look at Janice Langbehn and her three children. Tell them that they weren’t discriminated against. I dare you.

2009 Anti-Heterosexism Conference Called to Counter NARTH Annual Conference

Jim Burroway

August 1st, 2009

The National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) will hold its annual conference in West Palm Beach, Florida, in November, where they will push their claim among themselves and in the media that people can and ought to “change” their sexual orientation. In pushing their message, they have already pointed to examples from the 1950s through the 1980s when gays and lesbians underwent torturous electric shock aversion therapy. Is this what NARTH would have for our future?

We believe there is a better way. That’s why we are pleased to announce:

On Friday, November 20, Beyond Ex-Gay will hold a pre-conference institute for ex-gay survivors and allies. The conference itself will begin Friday evening and continue through Sunday morning. A full day of speakers and workshops are being planned, with topics touching on:

  • Understanding the Harm Caused By Heterosexism
  • Best Practices for Undoing Heterosexism
  • The Dangers of Reparative Therapy, Ex-Gay Ministries, and Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation
  • History & Practices of Reparative Therapy and Ex-Gay Ministries
  • Therapeutic Models for Helping LGBT People in Health and Mental Health Care
  • The Connection Between Religion, Heterosexism, and Reparative Therapy
  • Intersections Between Heterosexism, Racism, Sexism, Capitalism, etc.
  • The Healthy Reconciliation of Sexuality and Spirituality
  • Reflections on the Ex-Gay Experience
  • Impacting the Media: Strategies for Sharing Your Story with Confidence
  • Building Healthy Relationships After an Ex-Gay Experience
  • Ethical Dilemmas Associated with Reparative Therapy & Ex-Gay Ministries
  • Social Science Research on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity
  • LGBT Families and Parenting
  • Nonviolent Activism and Advocacy Strategies
  • Becoming a Powerful Ally

If you are interested in conducting a workshop, you can find an application with instructions at the Soulforce web site. Deadline for applications for workshops is August 29. Information on registration will be available in a couple of weeks. I hope to see you there.

How To Say “Yes”

Jim Burroway

May 27th, 2009

Many politicians duck and weave whenever “the question” comes up. But not Steve Kornell. He’s running for city council in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was asked a three part question at a community forum: 1) are you gay? 2) how will that affect your ability to do your job? and 3) will you be persuing a gay agenda? This was his response:

That’s a fair question, and I’m happy to answer it. First of all let me say I believe that if I’m going to be your city council member, that I need to be open and honest completely about everything. And how can I do that if I can’t be open and honest about who I am? And so the answer to that is yes.

But what I’m going to tell you is also that in those five months that I have walked door to door, nobody has asked me that question. But they have asked me about juvenile crime, they have asked me about what are you going to do to creat jobs for our citizens, what are you going to do to protect our coast. And those are the issues I’m going to focus on.

I’ve been in this community twenty-three years working, almost my entire life I’ve been in this community. People know me well. When I go on city council I will bring openness and honesty onto the city council. And so those are the issues I’m going to talk about. Those are the issues that are going to matter to the citizens of St. Petersburg. So I think that’s a fair question, and that’s my answer.

It’s Not Okay To Fire People Just For Being Gay

Jim Burroway

March 24th, 2009

So say the voters in Gainesville, Florida. The proposed city charter amendment which would have legalized firing gay people or denying them housing has gone down in flames. A defeat of 42% to 58% for Amendment 1 is pretty resounding and satisfying.

Bearden Spared Death Penalty For Killing Ryan Skipper

Jim Burroway

February 27th, 2009

Joseph Bearden, right, reacts to the jury's verdict. (Ernst Peters/The Ledger)

Joseph Bearden, right, reacts to the verdict. (Ernst Peters/The Ledger)

Joseph Bearden, 21, has been found guilty on all counts stemming from the death of Ryan Skipper and was sentenced to life imprisonment today. After nearly two days of deliberation, a Florida jury found Bearden guilty of second degree murder, theft of a motor vehicle, accessory after the fact to robbery with a weapon, tampering with evidence, and dealing in stolen property.

Bearden was being tried for first-degree murder, But with the guilty verdict for second degree murder, Bearden was spared a possible death penalty. Judge J. Michael Hunter told Bearden that he believed he killed Ryan because he way gay. While the judge gave him the maximum penalty for second degree murder, Bearden will nevertheless be eligible for parole in twenty-five years.

Bearden’s codefendent, William David Brown, Jr., 20, will be tried separately at a later date.

In March 2007, Ryan’s body was found by the side of a rural Florida road with more than 20 stab wounds and his throat slashed. Police allege that Brown and Bearden killed Ryan and stole his car. A witness testified that Brown killed Ryan because he was gay. After finding it impossible to clean up the blood in the car to sell it, Brown and Bearden set it on fire. But because it didn’t fully burn, investigators were able to obtain fingerprints from the car.

Gainseville, Florida to Legalize Discrimination?

Jim Burroway

February 24th, 2009

We’ve followed dozens of measures around the country to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. But never before not since Colorado’s Amendment 2 (which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1996) have we seen a ballot measure which would actually legalize discrimination:

…a city charter amendment has been drafted by a Michigan group that would take away Gainesville’s local power to establish our own equal opportunity laws.

There has been a false fear-based campaign to cloak the true impact of this amendment that would damage people’s lives and diminish our community.

This amendment, if passed, would prohibit Gainesville from providing antidiscrimination protections not included in specific statutes of Florida law. This charter amendment would make it perfectly legal to fire someone or deny housing just because of sexual orientation or gender identity, since these protections are not in county, state or federal law. It would also be impossible for Gainesville to add protections for political affiliation or economic status.

The proposed charter amendment is in reaction to the passage of the 2008 Gender Identity Ordinance, which added a prohibition on discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

Update: Okay, I wrote this way too late last night. There have been plenty of instances where voters have decided to discriminate where discrimination had been outlawed previously. Our commenters are counting the ways. Go ahead and add your example to the list.

[Hat tip: Dan Savage]

Jury Hears Details of Ryan Skipper’s Murder

Jim Burroway

February 21st, 2009

A jury in Bartow, Florida, heard evidence this week in the grisly 2007 murder of Ryan Skipper. Joseph Beardon, along with co-defendant William Brown Jr., is accused of robbing and killing Ryan, and dumping his body. Brown will be tried later at a separate trial.

The murder of of the 25-year-old gay man in Wahneta, Florida, has drawn widespread attention, not only for the grisly details of his murder, but also because the family and the LGBT community in Florida has been asked to keep a low profile during the trial. According to OA Online:

Lynn Mulder said Florida Assistant State Attorney Cass Castillo advised him that any conspicuous presence by the gay community, inside the courtroom or demonstrating outside the courthouse, could jeopardize the trial, which began Monday. So the Mulders are asking them to show their support, but silently, unobtrusively. Until the trial is over, they’re being asked to become invisible and voiceless.

On March 14, 2007, Bearden and Brown allegedly killed Ryan by stabbing him more than 20 times and slitting his throat, and leaving his body on a dark, rural road in Wahneta, Florida. The two defendants then took Ryan’s car and bragged of killing him because he was “a faggot.”

According to, several members of the jury were visibly shaken by autopsy photos showing that Ryan’s throat had been slashed and his torso covered with as many as twenty stab wounds. His back and shoulders were covered with blood. Associate Medical Examiner Vera Volnikh testified that Ryan’s wrists and arms also had slashes and deep cuts, indicating that he tried to fight off the attack. Volnikh testified that it was the cut to the throat that killed Ryan.The cut was 3.5 inches deep, tearing through skin, tissue, muscles and, more fatally, an artery. Ryan quickly bled to death within minutes.

Details of the events leading up to the attack are confusing and conflicting. According to testimony by John Kirchoff, a friend of Brown, Bearden had originally planned to rob Ryan at Ryan’s home. But when someone else came home, the two got into Ryan’s car and left. According to Kirchoff, they went to the home of Brown’s uncle where Kirchoff and Brown were staying to try to exchange a broken laptop for drugs. Other accounts dispute this point, saying that Ryan didn’t own a laptop, but that Ryan knew Brown because Brown knew a previous tenant at Ryan’s house.

At some point, Brown and Bearden decided to steal Ryan’s car, so they persuaded Ryan to give them a ride somewhere in Ryan’s new Chevrolet Aveo. When Kirchoff saw Brown again later that night, he had blood on his shirt.

According to Sheriff’s investigators, Bearden and Brown tried to clean and sell the car. But it was too badly soaked with blood to be cleaned and they didn’t have a copy of the car’s title to sell it, so they abandoned it on a dock on Lake Pansy in Winter Haven and set it on fire. The flames only caused minor damage, and investigators were able to retrieve both of their fingerprints from the car.

The defense is expected to present its case next week. Bearden, who is pleading not guilty to charges of robbery and first degree murder, faces the death penalty. The Sheriff’s department describes the incident as a hate crime, but because Bearden already faces the death penalty for first degree murder, adding a hate crimes enhancement will have no bearing on the case. The hate crime classification is not a separate charge but an enhancement during sentencing for existing criminal charges.

Miami Hosptital Tries To Block Lawsuit In Hospital Visitation Casell

Jim Burroway

February 7th, 2009

It’s hard to believe that in this day a hospital will block someone from seeing their partner, especially when  all of the medical powers of attorney paperwork are in place and properly signed and notarized. It’s harder still to believe that such a hospital would continue to defend its inhuman policies.

Langbehn-Pond Family

The case began in February, 2007, when Janice Langbehn and her partner Lisa Marie Pond, with three of their four children, were in Miami, Florida preparing for a cruise to celebrate their eighteenth anniversary. But before the cruise could leave port, Lisa Marie suffered a massive stroke and was taken to Jackson Memorial. Hospital personnel refused to let Langbehn into Pond’s hospital room, even after a legal power of attorney was faxed to the hospital. Pond was pronounced dead of a brain aneurysm about eighteen hours after being admitted to the hospital. The only time Langbehn was allowed to see her partner was when a priest was giving her last rites.

At one point, a hospital social worker callously defended the hospital’s actions be saying that Florida is “an anti-gay state.” Anti-human would be more like it.

Janice filed a federal lawsuit against Jackson Memorial charging hospital employees with negligence and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” The suit seeks damages in excess of $75,000. On Friday, Janice’s attorneys from Lambda Legal were back in Miami federal court to argue against a motion filed by the hospital seeking to dismiss the case

“We are here to ensure that families get the respect they deserve at Jackson Memorial Hospital and to prevent Janice’s tragedy from happening to anyone else,” said Beth Littrell, an attorney for Lambda Legal, a national group that fights for the civil rights of gays. “This family deserves to have it’s day in court.”.

Jackson Memorial Hospital is a public hospital operated by the Public Health Trust on behalf of the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners. It is also affiliated with the University of Miami as a teaching hospital.

A Truly Stupid Example of Transphobia

Timothy Kincaid

January 10th, 2009

Gainesville, Florida, has an ordinance allowing transgender persons to select whichever bathroom they find most appropriate. The haters and the fools have come up with a campaign to overturn this ordinance and to require transgendered persons to… well, I’m not sure exactly.

This is the television ad they are running:

Transgender persons – like any group – are too complex to make many absolute statements. But I’m willing to say with absolute confidence that there is not a single solitary male-to-female transgender out there that lurks around in public looking like this guy. And there isn’t a police force on the planet (much less Gainesville) that wouldn’t arrest this dude.

Ironically, however, this appearance would not be out of the question for a female-to-male transgender. And I just wonder just which bathroom the Citizens for Good Public Policy would want him to use.

Of course, their effort have nothing to do with where a T-girl pees. It’s just a cover for an anti-gay, anti-trans agenda.

The proposed amendment, if approved by the voters of Gainesville, will require the city’s civil rights categories (contained in the Code of Ordinances) to match the State of Florida’s civil rights categories. This action will remove two current categories—sexual orientation and gender identity disorder—as well as nullify current laws, such as the Gender Identity Ordinance, that specifically pertain to these categories.

The Good Citizens just want to have the right to discriminate.

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